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Turkey offers treatment for 15 survivors of Somali blast

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Medical personnel carry wounded children to be airlifted to the Turkish capital for treatment after they were injured in Saturday's car bomb blast in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Medical personnel carry wounded children to be airlifted to the Turkish capital for treatment after they were injured in Saturday's car bomb blast in Mogadishu, Somalia.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh   -   Farah Abdi Warsameh
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Turkey is offering medical treatment for fifteen survivors from the huge truck bomb that rocked Mogadishu, Somalia on Saturday morning.

The injured were flown to Turkey aboard a military aircraft on Sunday, alongside the bodies of two Turkish victims. Another aircraft was expected to arrive from Qatar to airlift others for treatment, Somali officials said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack immediately and sent 24 doctors to treat those who could not be evacuated.

In a tweet on Sunday, Somalia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Awad appreciated Turkey's efforts

Since a famine in 2011, Turkey has been a donor to Somalia and is funding a number of infrastructure and medical projects in the country. The Turkish military even has a base in Mogadishu, which was established in 2017.

Both countries have had a good relationship over almost the entire last decade. In fact, when Erdogan visited the country in 2011, he was the first non-African leader to do so since former US President George H.W. Bush.

The aftermath of a deadly attack

Somali authorities have said 79 people were killed when the truck exploded at a security checkpoint during Saturday morning rush hour.

Another 125 people were wounded. Health authorities in Mogadishu have pleaded for blood donations to help treat the 125 people wounded in the bombing, which occurred after a weekend as the Muslim nation returned to school and work.

Al-Shabaab Islamist militants on Monday claimed responsibility for Saturday's massive car bomb in the Somali capital Mogadishu that killed 81 people, including two Turkish citizens.

"The mujahideen carried (out) an attack... targeting a convoy of Turkish mercenaries and apostate militia who were escorting them," Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said in an audio message.

It was the worst attack in Mogadishu in more than two years.

Somalia's president blamed the al-Shabab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaida.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab often carries out such attacks.

The extremist group was pushed out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels in the seaside city.

The attack again raises concern about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the Horn of Africa country's security in the coming months from an African Union force.

Al-Shabab, the target of a growing number of U.S. airstrikes since President Donald Trump took office, controls parts of Somalia's southern and central regions. It funds itself with a ``taxation'' system that experts describe as extortion of businesses and travelers that brings in millions of dollars a year.